I sat down to write this week’s forecast with the intention of telling you about some of what I found and how it relates to current events. Then I got distracted by a column by Rob Brezsny, “everybody’s favorite astrologer,” ragging on astrologers who predict communications mix-ups, travel problems, and other irritations during Mercury retrograde. “It makes me sad when the sacred art of astrology is turned into just another excuse to be superstitious. Using half-baked horoscopy to justify self-fulfilling prophecies is astrology abuse in the extreme,” he writes. “Sorry to get so riled up … I truly love astrology’s power to enhance our willpower, and it bugs me when it’s ignorantly invoked to accomplish the very opposite.”
Judging by the comments on his post, his readers are grateful and relieved that they no longer have to take Mercury retrograde seriously. Even some professional astrologers thanked him for his brilliant insight. I have to admit that I’m puzzled, and the more I think about it, the more riled up I get. Maybe he didn’t intend to say what it sounds like he’s saying – after all, Mercury is retrograde, and I might have misunderstood. And perhaps his comments don’t apply to me, because I don’t advise my clients to put their lives on hold for three weeks, three times a year. Still, I have made statements of the nature he ridicules, and I absolutely stand by them. Observation over time tells me that Mercury retrograde periods are to be approached with some caution. I don’t consider this superstitious at all, and in fact I believe it’s the highest use of “the sacred art of astrology.”
As I see it, working with planetary energies is precisely the point. You might well ignore a forecast for violent thunderstorms and decide, “I want a picnic and I’m going to have it come hell or high water!” Undoubtedly, there are people who love being out in the elements, delighted with the freedom and adventure of soaked underwear and soggy sandwiches. It’s all in the attitude, right? Call me a stick in the mud, but if I knew a raging thunderstorm was on the way, I’d be bringing in firewood, taking a quick trip to the library, and making a pot of hot soup.
It’s hard for me to understand how an astrologer could argue that Mercury retrograde periods are innocuous to the point of being irrelevant, and that thinking otherwise will attract the very experiences you hope to avoid. In other words, if Mercury is retrograde and you get stuck in traffic, miss your flight, and as a result miss an important meeting, it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy created by your own superstition and fear of Mercury retrograde. I would say just the opposite. With a healthy respect for Mercury retrograde, you would make sure to give yourself lots of extra time to get to the airport, and if the meeting was that important – if your entire future depended on it – you might consider departing a day early and staying overnight. The mind does have incredible power, and it is possible to conjure up our worst fears. But it does not follow logically that if something bad happens, it must be because we unwittingly caused it through fear, erroneous thinking, or some other failing.
On one point we at least agree, and that’s the idea that events and circumstances we think of as “bad” can present opportunities, if we set aside our expectations and conditioning. In that regard, attitude is important, and our response to events can be more significant than the events themselves. But it’s a mistake to carry that logic to the extreme and argue that we have complete control via our minds. As the bumper sticker says, “Shit happens.” Indeed, the search for meaning in the face of unimaginable human tragedy gave rise to philosophy and religion, and astrology was born in part by the desire to avoid such tragedies. Tell someone whose entire village has just been wiped out by the plague that they’ve been blessed with a “growth opportunity.”
Now, this is a nice segue into my historical research, which centered on 17th century Europe. This was a critical period in human development, when science and metaphysics split, and anything that couldn’t be proven by “scientific method” was discarded as superstition. Astrology was one of the first casualties, and the attitudes of science today against astrology, religion, and other spiritual beliefs might as well be lifted right out of 17th century manuscripts. While Europe itself was in turmoil, with wars that radically shifted national boundaries and the center of political power, philosophers argued fundamental concepts of God, fate, the nature of the soul, and man’s place in a universe of which the earth was no longer the center. And here we are, 400 years later, embroiled in similar arguments. Science, it seems, has not lived up to its promise of providing all the answers to the meaning of life. It hasn’t even provided all the answers to questions about the material universe, let alone humanity’s place in it.Among the trends at the time, there were several popular uprisings against rulers in Europe and elsewhere, leading one Swedish diplomat to wonder “whether this can be explained by some general configuration of the stars in the sky.” He was more right than he possibly could have imagined. In 1648, when an uneasy treaty ended the devastating Thirty Year’s War, Uranus, Neptune, and the lunar South Node were in near exact opposition to Pluto, Saturn, Mars, and the North Node, with Jupiter in a close square. I’ve included the chart for a solar eclipse on the summer solstice in 1648 so you can see for yourself. Even without the benefit of the outer planets, which hadn’t been discovered yet, astrologers were so alarmed that they were predicting the end of the world. Of course, this didn’t help their professional status and might even have led to the “end of the world” for astrology. But they were onto something nonetheless, and now that we have the benefit of hindsight to analyze outer planetary cycles, we know that such an intense planetary configuration was bound to manifest as turbulence on earth. Incidentally, a wave of extremely cold weather began around the same time, which some climatologists later declared was part of a “Little Ice Age.” Coincidence?
One of the main reasons for assaulting astrology in the 17th century was the question of fate. The idea that our fate may lie in the stars went against science and the Church, and it still does. But fate and free will aren’t mutually exclusive. Using the example of retrograde Mercury, is it written in the stars that you’re going to lose your best friend and everything on your hard drive? Certainly not. But depending where Mercury is retrograde in your chart and what aspects he’s making with other planets, you may be at a higher risk for these outcomes. Free will enters the picture in that you have a choice to ignore the warning and take your chances, or to take reasonable precautions and hedge your bets. I can’t foresee everything in everyone’s individual charts, so I give you general guidelines in my weekly forecasts. You get more specific guidelines in my StarGuide seasonal and monthly reports.
The Sun and Mercury conjoin on Monday, so it’s quite possible we’ll get to make some additional observations. My read on this aspect is that it holds potential for being productive, especially if you’re writing songs, poetry, or fiction. This is also a signature for vivid dreams that could produce other kinds of inspiration. Keep your journal handy. Less than an hour later, Venus squares Jupiter, which can improve communications and good feelings considerably, especially if there is alcohol involved. Just take care not to overdo it.
The bigger news this week is the exact sextile between Saturn and Pluto, who also are in mutual reception; that is, Saturn is in Pluto-ruled Scorpio, and Pluto is in Saturn-ruled Capricorn, thereby magnifying the energies of each and making them greater than the sum of their parts. Saturn and Capricorn are about structure, discipline, and progressing toward a goal one step at a time. Pluto and Scorpio are about destruction, transformation, and unquenchable desire. Combined and in a favorable relationship, these two manifest as stunning breakdowns in order to rebuild more sustainable structures. This can apply to just about any area of life, although you’ll likely find it most operative in the areas of life ruled by the houses in your natal chart that Saturn and Pluto currently are transiting. This pair is even more significant in world affairs. My favorite example is the American Revolution, which is what happened the last time Saturn and Pluto were in mutual reception. There was definitely a whole lot of breaking down there. We’ve got another two years of this influence, and it’s likely that some radical shifts will happen in that time, since Pluto also is in an ongoing square with revolutionary Uranus through 2015.
On Wednesday, Mercury conjoins Venus, and throughout the week, they each conjoin Chiron, sextile Pluto, and trine Saturn. The involvement of Mercury and Venus bring the transformative power of Saturn and Pluto down to a personal level. Again, I expect that the more creative among you will find major inspiration this week, and the ideas that come to you should be useful. Pisces has a reputation for being a poet, a dreamer, and an escapist. With powerful aspects to Saturn and Pluto, dreams can become reality, and even escapist tendencies could produce something of lasting value.
For me, creativity is definitely highlighted, and Mercury’s retrograde, combined with an overflow of Pisces, seems to be carrying me on an enlightening journey back through time. But I’m finding that this time is best spent working in solitude, one of the key traits of Pisces. Where communications are particularly sensitive and vital to the success of a project, I’ve deferred further activity until the end of the month.
In celebration of Mercury, I leave you with a new NASA video created from images from the MESSENGER spacecraft, including the one above. Please note that this is not the actual color of Mercury. Still, it’s pretty darn cool.
Much love and courage to all,